Photo by Lexi Hall from The Crimson White
By Kathryn Gibralter
TUSCALOOSA, Ala — Coleman Coliseum was in an uproar standing ovation for the seniors of the Crimson Tide who gave it their all these past four years.
With a minute left in regulation, John Petty Jr., Herb Jones, Alex Reese, and Jordan Bruner were up and down the sidelines, pulling members of the coaching staff and team into bone-crushing hugs. Joshua Primo sported the biggest smile on his face, with arms lifted, proud of the senior class standing before him.
It would be their last time playing at Coleman this season. Last time together at home as this team.
There was a ladder under the basket, so they could take turns ceremoniously cutting the net to celebrate their SEC regular-season title, which they clinched outright against Mississippi State on Saturday.
But to get to this moment, they had to go through Auburn.
The loss at Arkansas could be considered a reset for the Crimson Tide. It forced them to take things one game at a time instead of trying to break records and make history. With a win over the Bulldogs and a regular-season title in their grasp, they gained their confidence back to face the cross-state rivals.
Auburn is young, as there isn’t a single senior on their team. They are mostly led by their star sophomores, Devan Cambridge and Allen Flanigan, while Sharife Cooper, their freshmen leading scorer, is out with an ankle injury.
On the first play of the game, Jones connected on a floater pass to Petty for a dunk from the baseline, kick-starting the Alabama offense. Bama was committed to speed, transitioning with ease against the Tigers’ defense. Auburn didn’t realize that they were actually in a track meet.
The key component that the Tide seemingly mastered was to keep Auburn off the offensive rebounds and to not let them capitalize on defense after a made basket.
For the better part of the first half, it looked like Alabama might run away with the game, leading by 16 points, though the Tigers cut it back to within 5 points with 8 minutes left in the second half.
Auburn’s weakness? Turnovers. They had 10 to start in just under 11 minutes and even after they came back in the second half, their inability to keep hold of the ball on their offensive end is what cost them the game.
Jaden Shackelford led the team in scoring with a season-high 23-points, as well as Bruner trailing with a season-high of 20-points, as the Tide rolled over Auburn 70-58. It would be Alabama’s first season sweep of Auburn since the 2014-15 season.
The Tide had much to be proud of and can now start preparing for the SEC Tournament in Nashville, which will take place from March 10th-14th.